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Big Society in action with local parents 24.01.11

Local parents are putting the Big Society into action as charity takes over a family support group.


The Parent 2 Parent network was set up by Sutton Council in 2005 to recruit, train and support parents to become mentors for families of children with special needs and disabilities.

Now charity HELPP is taking over the running of the project and also expanding the service to provide workshops and regular groups as well as one-to-one support.

The befriending service is given by parents who also have a child with special needs or a disability and so have already learnt to cope with practical and emotional challenges involved in their care.

Nyssa Smyth has been involved with Parent 2 Parent for five years and is mother of eight-year-old Charlie who has Down's syndrome. She has befriended around seven different families during this time and despite recently becoming the project co-ordinator at HELPP, she continues to work at the grass roots.

She said: "Seeing the transformation in parents from feeling isolated and lonely to becoming stronger, more empowered and confident is hugely rewarding.

"I really believe that there is no better support than from someone who has had similar experiences as you really can relate to each other in a very honest way."

Cllr Dave Callaghan, Sutton Council's Executive Member for Children, Families and Youth Services, said: "The invaluable support that these parents provide for each other has worked very well over recent years. Now as the parents themselves take over the decisions and co-ordination of the project I feel that it will go from strength to strength and evolve into an even greater asset to the community.

"This is a great example of the Big Society idea at work in Sutton as local people and charities take over services they value." 

If you are interested in being involved in mentoring or would like to find out more about the support available to you contact call 07906 694875

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Last updated: Monday, 14 February 2011

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